PHOENIX, Ariz. – Arizona Christian University (20-14, 13-14 GSAC) moved into third place in the Golden State Athletics Conference baseball race with 3-2 and 3-0 victories over fifth-place Biola University (20-17, 12-15 GSAC), Thursday, March 28, at Firestorm Field on the ACU campus in Phoenix.
Arizona Christian scored a go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth inning of game one on an RBI ground ball to second base by senior leftfielder Chris Russell (pictured on top row, right; Anthem, Ariz./Boulder Creek H.S./Northwest Oklahoma Univ.), who drove in all three of Arizona Christian's runs in the game, and senior righthander Stephen Thompson (pictured on bottom row, right; Memphis, Tenn./Christian Brothers H.S./Arkansas Tech University) now 5-4 this season with two consecutive wins in the last five days, pitched the second complete-game shutout in Arizona Christian baseball history and won game two, 3-0, allowing five hits and no walks and striking out four in seven innings of work.
Junior leftfielder Orrin Sears (pictured on bottom row, left; Albuquerque, N.M./Eldorado H.S./Linn Benton C.C., Ore./Lamar C.C., Colo.) smacked his sixth double of the season and scored Arizona Christian's go-ahead run in the eighth inning of game one and accounted for one of Arizona Christian's two runs with an RBI double, his seventh of the season, in the fifth inning of game two. By extending his consecutive-game hitting streak to 11 games, Sears tied a school record, previously set by David Madrigal in 2011, and is batting .301 with 19 RBI this season.
Arizona Christian, coached by Don Mitchell, plays a crucial fourth-place San Diego Christian College (22-13, 11-13 GSAC) in a GSAC three-game series, Friday and Saturday, April 5-6, in El Cajon, California. Next Friday's single nine-inning game begins at 3 p.m. Arizona time, and Saturday's doubleheader begins at 12 noon. San Diego Christian won two of the three games at Arizona Christian back on Feb. 15-16.
In game one, the Firestorm totaled five hits and received four walks from freshman righthander Josh Staumont, who allowed three runs, all earned, and five hits and struck out 11 Firestorm batters. Staumont struck out the first six Arizona Christian batters of the game. Arizona Christian scored two runs in the fourth inning on a walk issued to junior first baseman Phil Creecy (Monterey, Calif./Palma H.S./San Diego City College), a one-out double by senior catcher Joel Thys (Auburn, Calif./Placer H.S./Sonoma State Univ./Ohlone College), and a two-RBI single by Russell. Staumont, now 4-5 this season, also was charged with Arizona Christian's go-ahead run in the eighth inning after leaving the game with runners on first and third bases and one out.
Sears doubled and advanced to third base on a single through the left side of the infield by senior catcher Joel Thys (Auburn, Calif./Placer H.S./Sonoma State Univ./Ohlone College), his second hit of the game, against Staumont, and lefthanded reliever Garrett Picha was summoned from the bullpen and enticed Russell to hit a ground ball to second base as Sears scored from third base, putting Arizona Christian ahead, 3-2. Picha retired the side on a strikeout.
Senior lefthander Mike Lachapelle (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro H.S./Univ. of New Mexico/Pima C.C.) allowed just one run, which scored while Arizona Christian turned a key double play in the fifth inning, seven hits and no walks and struck out five Biola batters in 6-1/3 innings of work and was removed from the game in the top of the seventh inning after giving up a pair of singles through the left side of the infield with one out with Arizona Christian holding a 2-1 lead.
Senior righthander Tanner Tripp (pictured on top row, left; Chandler, Ariz./Corona del Sol H.S./Univ. of Utah/South Mountain C.C.) retired Biola with no further damage on another crucial double play ball, but gave up a game-tying run (2-2) in the eighth inning on a single by leftfielder Vince Lawrence, a single by centerfielder Benji Sutherland, which advanced Lawrence to third base, and an RBI bouncer to third base by freshman catcher Sam Thorne, which also moved Sutherland to second base. Tripp then intentionally walked second baseman Michael Annunziata and walked pinch-hitter James Petrilli, loading the bases, but enticed Biola first baseman Nick Oddo to ground out to second base, ending the threat.
Tripp walked the first two Biola batters in the ninth inning, and Tripp retired the first out of the inning on a force play at third base and earned the second out on a force play at second base on a play started by third baseman Trevor Santor (Phoenix, Ariz./Ironwood H.S./Grand Canyon Univ.). With two outs and runners on first and third, senior lefthander Jake Dziubczynski (Chandler, Ariz./Mountain Pointe H.S./TAMU-Corpus Christi/Central Arizona C.C.) was brought in from the bullpen and earned his first save of the season when he retired the only batter he faced on a fly ball to leftfield.
Tripp, now 2-0, allowed one run, four walks and two hits and struck out one in 2-1/3 innings of work. The Arizona Christian bullpen earned its school single-season record tenth save of the season.
In game two, Thompson retired Biola in order in the first, third, sixth and seventh innings, and was helped out of the fifth inning by Arizona Christian's third double play of the doubleheader. He also pitched around Sutherland's double in the fourth inning and left two runners on base in the fifth.
Arizona Christian totaled six hits and one walk and struck out five times against righthander Trevor Oaks (2-6), who pitched all six innings for Biola. Arizona Christian scored its first run in the third inning on an RBI single to centerfield by junior second baseman Michael Bregante (Tucson, Ariz./Cienega H.S./GateWay C.C.) and added two unearned runs in the fifth inning on a throwing error, Bregante's sacrifice bunt, and two-out RBI doubles by Sears and junior rightfielder Seth Neely (Phoenix, Ariz./Tolleson Union H.S./Scottsdale C.C.), who has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games with 10 RBI and 22 hits in his last 44 at-bats (.500).